The Playwriting Concentration

The MFA playwriting program embraces diverse voices and aesthetics. There are many ways to write a great play, exemplified by our faculty, which includes Tony©, Pulitzer, and Obie Award winners such as Charles Mee, Lynn Nottage, and David Henry Hwang. This program seeks to help each student find their own unique and idiosyncratic voice, and help each play grow into the best version of itself.

We take a practical approach to preparing graduates for careers as dramatists, by offering courses and experience in the full range of dramatic writing, including television, film, and musical theatre, under the guidance of instructors like Tony© Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori and iconic TV showrunner Matt Williams.

 

Because we believe playwrights need to hear their work and see it staged, two years of reading and critiquing student work are supplemented by workshop productions. The third year includes professional development led by the concentration head, with each student receiving a full production of their thesis play, mentored by their favorite dramatist or other theatre professional.

 

This program is large enough to offer a wide range of courses, and small enough for each writer to gain the personal attention necessary to facilitate their all-important artistic growth.

Upcoming Events:

May 20

How to Gild an Eagle

Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 West 129th Street
New York, NY 10027
(enter on 125th Street, west of Broadway) 2:30 PM

Donna and Matt Walker face the impending foreclosure of their family store and inn when Lana Usman, an immigrant single mother, offers them a deal that gives them a chance to stay. How To Gild An Eagle is a play about what it takes to belong and what one must sacrifice to hang on to past legacies.


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June 2

Good Things Happen

Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 West 129th Street
New York, NY 10027
(enter on 125th Street, west of Broadway) 2:30 PM

A working class mother finds a bag of stolen money - more than she could ever hope to earn in her lifetime. But what does the average mom even do with that much cash? And how far will she stretch her moral compass if it means making her family’s wildest dreams come true? "Good Things Happen" is a nostalgic neo-noir chock full of blue collar crime, money laundering, VHS tapes, phonebook deliveries, manifestation, and pepperoni pizza.


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June 3

People on Earth

Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 West 129th Street
New York, NY 10027
(enter on 125th Street, west of Broadway) 2:30 PM

An audience gathers. They sit in a circle. And the actors begin to tell them a story… We are in a prehistoric forest and the trees are dying. Two strangers meet on the outskirts of an ancient city. An iPhone buzzes in a small boat on a stormy sea at night. As epic as it is intimate, "People on Earth" takes us on a three-hundred-million-year journey from primordial extinction, through to the not-so-distant future. A play about human progress. And what is lost along the way.


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Notable Alumni

David Wiener '01 (Fear the Walking Dead)

Bathsheba Doran '03 (The Mystery of Love and Sex, Boardwalk Empire)

Beau Willimon '03 (House of Cards)

Jocelyn Bioh '08 (School Girls; or The African Mean Girls Play)

Celine Song '14 (Endlings

Raquel Almazan '15 (La Paloma Prisoner)

Ming Peiffer '16 (Usual Girls)

Matthew Barbot '17 (El Conqui Espectacular and The Bottle of Doom)

The Playwright's Room

The Playwright’s Room is a series featuring the newest cohort of Columbia Playwriting students. These playwrights study under the tutelage of David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage. ​

The Playwright’s Room: Goldie Patrick

The Playwright’s Room: Goldie Patrick

June 2, 2021

Patrick is a proud alumna of Howard University where she earned her BFA in acting and is the former founding Executive Director of FRESHH Inc Theatre company for Black womxn and girls.

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The Playwright’s Room: Sam Kressner

The Playwright’s Room: Sam Kressner

May 20, 2021

Kressner is a playwright and screenwriter who recently wrote his first feature film, Light On Broken Glass, starring Patricia Clarkson. Kressner has worked with a host of international film directors such as Isabel Coixet (Elegy), Peter Sattler (Camp X-Ray), and Claire McCarthy (Ophelia).

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